Oneida Baptist Institute makes clear its purpose — “while every school deals with the minds of young people, but few, like Oneida, minister to the soul as well.” Its success in that mission is evidenced by 16 salvations over recent months that were celebrated at the school last week.
OBI President Larry Gritton said the majority of those salvations were the result of the school’s Sunday morning worship service in its chapel, led by the school’s campus minister, David Price, a long-time Baptist pastor.
Oneida, with an enrollment of approximately 250 students in grades K–12, has dormitory residents for grades 9–12.
The school holds a daily chapel service five days a week, and on Sundays meets in what it calls Campus Church. That is attended primarily by dormitory students, although it expanded during COVID-19 when it opened to faculty and staff in addition to community residents.
Of the 16 salvations, four are starters on the middle school boys’ basketball team, which Gritton coaches.
“I try to be very intentional as a coach about talking to them about the Lord and Scripture,” Gritton said. “I have a close personal relationship with the players. I stepped in for this particular group of middle school boys and started working with them coming to us from the local elementary school and have been working with them a couple of years.”
Oneida Elementary School goes through the sixth grade, then students can choose between OBI or the Clay County school system, which is in Manchester.
Building godly students
Both Price and Gritton talked with the four players separately and at different times about their salvation experiences to confirm the details.
“It’s an awesome blessing,” Gritton said, noting that the celebration of the salvations prompted others to begin asking spiritual questions. One of those was a dormitory resident from California, who then talked about it with a student from Brazil. “We’ll probably have more salvations in coming weeks,” Gritton noted. “The Lord is moving at OBI.”
The middle school basketball season is over, but Gritton is also coaching the boys’ varsity team. Two of his eighth-graders start on the varsity, being the team’s second- and third-leading scorers. “These boys are respectful and joyful — they have brought life to our school community in a lot of ways.”
Gritton said a major factor in his decision to be involved in coaching was the wrapping up of major construction projects on campus, estimating those projects took about a third of his time. “But we’ve completed most of that now.”
Now, he is focused on the task building godly young men.